A moving story of a fresh-mouthed, 14-year-old mother who finds strong roots in her family's past and the means for going forward. When Gayle is pregnant for the second time, her mother drags her off for an abortion, then puts her and her infant son on a plane for Georgia. Her unclea ministerand his wife and daughter meet her with greatly varying degrees of welcome. Culture shock makes for some rough times, but Gayle unexpectedly discovers a kindred spirit in her bedridden great-grandmother, who not only becomes a confidante, but in an intense, spellbinding climactic scene passes on their family's history in a way that binds Gayle and her son firmly to past, present, and future. Williams-Garcia (Fast Talk On A Slow Track, 1991) plays off Gayle's street-forged language (no profanity, but otherwise authentically rude and gritty), expectations, and values brilliantly against her relatives' gentler conventions. Gayle is sharp and strong-minded, but gut-wrenchingly naive about some things; she continually startles, and is startled by, her devout, strictly raised cousin Cookie. Without moralizing, the author gives readers a good, hard look at the limitations of a world view in which sex and children are casual events (Gayle's indifference to her abortion and to her son's father is downright chilling), then suggests that with love, respect and a push at the right time, no rut is too deep to escape. A gift from a gifted storyteller. (Fiction. 12-up)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-525-67465-9

Page Count: 165

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1995

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Han’s leisurely paced, somewhat somber narrative revisits several beach-house summers in flashback through the eyes of now 15-year-old Isabel, known to all as Belly. Belly measures her growing self by these summers and by her lifelong relationship with the older boys, her brother and her mother’s best friend’s two sons. Belly’s dawning awareness of her sexuality and that of the boys is a strong theme, as is the sense of summer as a separate and reflective time and place: Readers get glimpses of kisses on the beach, her best friend’s flirtations during one summer’s visit, a first date. In the background the two mothers renew their friendship each year, and Lauren, Belly’s mother, provides support for her friend—if not, unfortunately, for the children—in Susannah’s losing battle with breast cancer. Besides the mostly off-stage issue of a parent’s severe illness there’s not much here to challenge most readers—driving, beer-drinking, divorce, a moment of surprise at the mothers smoking medicinal pot together. The wish-fulfilling title and sun-washed, catalog-beautiful teens on the cover will be enticing for girls looking for a diversion. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 5, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4169-6823-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

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